The global population divides into two sides: those who believe in something and those who do not. Paradoxically non-believers ponder religious questions just as much as devout believers. Irreligious thinking systems reject the belief in anything supernatural. Interpretations vary from casual to philosophical. People following irreligions focus their inquiry on the absence of religious sacredness. They do so with the same sincerity, energy, and conviction as the believers on the spiritual side. Educational and intelligence on both sides are likely to be identical. Religious and irreligious views are mutually exclusive and essentially unreconcilable. Irreconcilability always carries the potential of conflict. Those searching for a united, all-inclusive Ground may not find it here.
People in this group are opposed to organized religion, religious institutions, or religious practices. This way of thinking can include hostility towards supernatural beliefs in general. The antireligion perspective is closely related to anti-clericalism, which focuses primarily on rejecting religious power in society. The former Soviet Union is an example of an anti-religious state system.
People who call themselves atheists deny or reject the belief in any existing deities or spiritual beings. Many atheists have negative views about the role of religion in society. Atheists often have, paradoxically, an intense interest in religion and are very well informed on the subject. Positive Atheism refers explicitly to the non-existence of deities, whereas Negative Atheism allows for the potential of existing gods under certain conditions. Estimations suggest there are about 400 million positive atheists globally, with China having 200 million convinced atheists.
Agnostics are not sure about believing in god(s) or divine beings. In their view, the existence of god (s) or anything divine or supernatural is unknown or unknowable. They are not committed to one idea or the other. They feel that human reason is incapable of providing a rational justification for the existence of divine beings. The Greek philosopher Protagoras expressed these views as early as the 5th century.
Agnostic atheism is like sitting on the fence. Agnostic atheism includes both atheism and agnosticism. Followers are atheistic because they reject the existence of any divine being. At the same time, they are agnostic because they claim that the presence of a deity can not be established in knowledge nor fact. In this way, they neither believe nor disbelieve in god(s) or religious doctrine.
Apatheists are people who prefer an attitude of apathy towards questions of the existence or non-existence of divine beings. They are not interested in religious views, claims or belief systems. They don’t reject or accept, they just don’t want to know as they feel any discussion of these topics is pointless and irrelevant. The philosopher Denis Diderot (1713-1784) wrote: “It is very important not to mistake hemlock for parsley, but to believe or not believe in God is not important at all.”
Deists are not against the belief that god(s) exists and created the world. However, to deists reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of god(s). They reject spiritual revelations, scriptures and religious authority figures as sources of religious legitimacy. This way of looking at things was especially popular in the 18th century. Deism can be called a natural religion.
Non-Cognitivism is a pretty high-level philosophical view proposing that moral language can neither be true or false because, in essence, moral judgments are incapable of being true or false. Cognitive skills involve conscious intellectual effort, such as thinking. Non-cognitive skills are more related to motivation and intuition. The philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) is considered the father of non-cognitivism.
Secular humanism prefers human matters to divine matters. The philosophy embraces human reason and common sense. Religious dogma, superstition, and belief in phenomena and entities not subject to the laws of nature are all rejected. Humanists see humans as capable of making ethical and moral decisions without religion or deities. However, humans are not superior to nature nor inherently good or evil.
Secularists believe that everybody has the right to follow or not follow a religion or not. However, religion and state must be neutral in questions of faith. There is an unbridgeable wall between state and religion. The principles of secularism are derived from the material world and reject all metaphysical and supernatural aspects of traditional beliefs.
Freethinkers like to believe in logic, reason, and empirical observation. It is better to form one’s ideas rather than blindly accept those of religious teachings. Freethinkers consider free thought as natural freedom. Concepts like revelation, tradition, established beliefs, and authority are rejected in favor of skepticism and unconventional thinking.
Naturalists philosophy believes that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the universe. Nature is seen as the only source of existence, and nature provides all answers to reality. Supernatural or spiritual explanations are not necessary because solutions are evident in the laws of nature. Scientific investigation is the ultimate tool for all naturalists.